The Eleventh Circuit today reversed dismissal of misappropriation claims by a group of doctors against a "preferred provider organization" that contracted for their services and another company that sold "medical discount cards". The practitioners of the healing arts complained that the PPO improperly let the card-seller use their identities and practice information to market its discount cards. The district court rejected the claim on the ground that under Georgia law it sounded only in contract. The court of appeals held that, sure, it did sound in contract but that it also constituted a tort. Rivell v. Private Health Care Sys., Inc., No. 07-12387 (11th Cir. Mar. 24, 2008).
Blawgletter has heard of rules that confine tort claims to contract remedies, notably the "economic loss" doctrine. The reason seems to have to do with worries about allowing punitive damages for conduct that also breaches a contractual obligation. We wonder whether the rules will lose some of their momentum as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s line of cases that limit punitives on the ground that excessive awards violate due process.
We wonder, but we doubt it.